Lawmaker flees to US after threats

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The Independent US

A wealthy lawmaker has fled with his family to the United States – saying he fears assassination – after accusing some of Russia's richest and most influential people of swindling him over a real-estate deal. In his absence, he has been charged with financial crimes.

Ashot Egiazaryan may seek asylum in the US, but after suing a billionaire and several former business partners – including a friend of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Moscow's former mayor – he said he doesn't feel safe there.

"I do think it's possible that an assassination attempt can be mounted against me here," he said, as he spoke to the media, flanked by lawyers, in a conference room a few blocks from the White House.

The interview was his first with Western media and came a few weeks after one of his relatives was gunned down in Astrakhan on 7 December, an attack he claims is connected with his lawsuit.

The struggle over the prime Moskva Hotel in Moscow is now being waged in a Cyprus civil court, the London Court of International Arbitration, on the web and on Capitol Hill. The case could be a headache for the Obama administration. The US is counting on Moscow's support in the war in Afghanistan and in efforts to derail the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea.